Keyword research and content optimization tips

Rank without links (almost)

Content optimization will never be child’s play as long as Google keeps deploying new algorithms. If you want to achieve results in SEO, it’s important to keep an eye on innovations and look at existing opportunities from new angles. In this post, we will reveal some tips for improving your website’s ranking in search results — without significant or massive off-page efforts (i.e., you won’t need a dozen links to contaminate your info).

Get your URLs and meta’s done

To start, make wise optimization choices for both URLs (the address of the webpage) and meta fields, so the relevant information will be shown to both the user and the search engine.

Tips for optimizing URLs

A user-friendly URL is a must-have these days. What’s more, including exact match and partial-match keywords (and, to some extent, keyword synonyms) — in the page’s URL likely will increase the relevance of the URL and thus improve the page’s search ranking. This technique is also believed to work well for domains.

For example:

Exact-match domain:
Good: mylovelypet.com/cat-nutrition-feeding (extra synonym)
Not as good: mylovelypet.com/cat-feeding

Partial-match domain:
Good: cat-world.com/feline-feeding-advice (we add a synonym here)
Not as good: cat-world.com/cat-feeding-advice (same term twice)

The first URL provides a search engine with more relevant information about the content of the post by providing other terms that mean the same thing, boosting search engine optimization.

Tips for optimizing meta tags

Page titles and descriptions also can influence search ranking. For instance, placing the page content’s target keyword at the beginning of the page title can improve search ranking:

For example:
Target keywords: cat feeding
Page title: Cat Feeding Tips: Nutrition Advice

A meta description is short snippet of text that describes what the page is about — and it can plan a big role in the clickthrough rate from the search results page to your web page.

Making the meta description engaging can significantly improve the clickthrough rate of your page and point Google to its relevance.

The content optimization rules for meta descriptions are straightforward:

  • Describe the page content accurately.
  • Make your description engaging so it stands out on the search engine results page.
  • Include target keywords.
  • Stay within the meta description length limit (up to 320 characters at the time of this writing).
Content Optimization Meta Description
A strong meta description can improve the clickthrough rate to a web page.

Find the ‘blue ocean’ your the keyword research

Ever heard of “Blue Ocean Strategy”? In a nutshell, it’s a theory that says success comes tapping into promising new markets, regardless of the competition. Using this theory in the context of content optimization can be a reliable way to dig out new opportunities.

Various SEO tools offer excellent opportunities for keyword research. One great idea is to use topic clustering and SEMRush’s keyword tool.

Let’s go through four steps to picking awesome keywords so you can discover new opportunities for content optimization that might give you an edge over the competition.

1. Choose your core keyword

Let’s pick “cat food.”

Content Optimization SEMRush
Image: SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool

2. Choose the sub-topic that will lead to the target keywords for the content.

3. Pick the keywords with the lowest competition

All the highlighted keywords are the perfect fit for the Blue Ocean Strategy: they are low on competition and gather a good portion of potential traffic. These keywords will become the semantic base of the content and are great to be used in titles, headers, etc.

Content Optimization Magic
Image: SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool

4. Distinguish all the keywords in the group

Export the list of the keywords, including the highly competitive ones, to make the content relevant for both the category and the article topic.

This sequence of informal steps gives you a precise list of great keywords that differ from the competitors and give you the freedom to create awesome content.

Creating with content optimization in mind

The next step in the journey is the process of content creation. The keywords have two main purposes when used in the article. The first role is to determine the structure of the content. The semantic base you choose will give ideas about the headings in the post, the content of each paragraph, and where the reader’s attention should be emphasized.

The second role of the keywords is to provide the search engine with an idea about the relevance of the content (based on the user’s search terms). This is the most interesting and complicated part of content optimization.

Here are a few pre-writing tips for using your target keywords to optimize content:

  • Split the keywords into a set of single terms: cat, food, dry, wet, indoor, how, much, etc.
  • Gather the core keywords with the set of single terms and distribute them evenly in the article. The result will be a great text structure that attracts the reader and relevantly highlights the content for the search engine.

In the end, you get a precise article, both informative for the reader and Google friendly.

Even though the content can undergo endless changes and improvements before it gets published, here are the three most important points you should review before publishing:

Readability

The way your user perceives the content is crucial: infinite paragraphs, complicated sentences and oversaturated descriptions push away the reader. This leads to higher bounce rates. Check the readability manually or with the tools like
Readable.io. It also reviews the keyword density to help avoid over-optimization.

Literacy

Even minor grammatical mistakes can hurt your credibility. The reader might simply close the tab and never return to the website. Freelance proofreaders or writing companies can fix minor errors and polish the content.

Uniqueness

If you outsource your content, it is reasonable to check the post’s uniqueness. Google hates duplicated content, and you can be penalized for publishing the same content that has already been published elsewhere. Use tools such as Copyscape or Grammarly Plagiarism Checker to help ensure that you’re working with original content.

Awesome ways to promote your content without links

Without getting into the dry technical details, there are features that do not have a direct influence on the rankings, but help your website grow faster. What is even more important, with their help you gain the audience that doesn’t only read your content but admires your website and brand. Getting a bit weird, funny and innovative opens a lot of new opportunities to use in content strategy.

Moreover, there are some very cool features that can capture audiences and compel them to share your services with others.

Here are some awesome examples of how to create truly interactive content that pretty well sum up what you can do to get the attention, ranks and love of your customers.

American Heart Association

People love to participate online. That’s why they take all of those quizzes on Facebook. The American Heart Association, for example, has quizzes that help people determine if they are at risk for the heart disease.

Content Optimization AHA
Image: American Heart Association – Healthy Heart Quizzes

Certainly, the quizzes are helpful for people who have health concerns, but not the type of content that will go viral. However, this particular link gets first position in the search results and is a great example of finding an easy-to-conquer keyword.

Content Optimization Ahrefs
Image: Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

On the other hand, what if you could craft some quizzes like those that get thousands of participants who then share them with their friends? All the better if you can make them relate to your product or service.

Philips Razors

Interactive videos have become even more popular. That’s what Philips Razors figured out when they crafted their video series trying to get more interest for their new electric razor. They crafted a video, combined with storytelling, and gave visitors the opportunity to choose a type of shave for a young man. When they selected the shave, they received a story of a man who didn’t remember what he had done the night before.

Content Optimization RAPT
Image: RAPT media

The goal of the company was to target a new audience — younger men who weren’t necessarily into the “clean shaven” look of their fathers — and to show them that facial hair is cool and they can care for it with their new electric razor.

The results were rather successful. Visitors to the site who participated in the video play stayed an average of three times longer and followed the prompt to share the video via social networks. Within a year, more than a million people had watched the video, and the company’s sales goals for their new product were exceeded by 16 percent.

Ready, set, optimize!

SEO is volatile, and that’s the thing that makes every SEO specialist stay in shape. It isn’t necessary to be an innovator; sometimes looking at some things from a different angle generates new ideas and reveals fresh opportunities. Structuring out the content optimization strategy, finding niche topics, and creating content that works both for users and search engines represents the quintessence of content marketing.